Whenever I teach writing I remind everyone in the room that first drafts are supposed to be bad. That's their only job. They are messy and strange and too long and too short and often pretty terrible. First drafts, to me, are barely a step above an outline. You're still getting to know your characters, you're finding out if your pre-imagined plot points make sense, and sometimes you find yourself going off on unexpected tangents that you can't explain why logically are happening, but you let it happen because, after all, this is just a first draft.
Last week, just before a camping trip, I managed to finish the very first draft of THE SUMMER I HOWLED. It's another beast of a play with twenty characters to keep track off, romance subplots, age-old rivalry subplots, negligent adult subplots, (so many subplots!), supernatural happenings, humor, and (hopefully) some truly scary moments. My first draft is a hot mess. I forgot about characters, left moments to come back to and flush out later, and I made a bunch of stuff up. I had a small knot in my stomach when I sent the draft on its way, because even I have to remind myself that it's okay for first drafts to not be good. If I spent time trying to make a first draft everything I thought the play should be, I'm not sure I would ever ever get it done. And so, I met my deadline, and I turned in a confusing mess of a play. Next week I'll hear it out loud and get to my favorite part… REWRITES.
For now, here's a very early blurb/synopsis about the play:
"Welcome to Camp Gray Pine where campers spend weeks breathing in fresh air, soaking up nature, and learn the importance of friendship, healthy competition, and curing ancient curses. When seasoned camper Woolf wanders into the woods with new-kid Mike past curfew on the first night of camp, neither of them realize they’re walking under a full moon, or what is creeping near them in the trees, until it’s too late. Woolf is bit forcing her friends to drop everything and figure out how to keep her from going full-fledged werewolf before the next full moon. Can they navigate around Capture the Flag, basket weaving, ghost stories, and the dreaded Camp Gray Pine oatmeal to find a cure, keep their friend’s secret, and not raise suspicion? And when a cure is found, how far is too far to help your dearest friend? Pull up a log and lean close to the campfire, some stories are just better with s’mores.”
THE SUMMER I HOWLED will be posted on New Play Exchange after I've made another pass through the script and fixed some of the problems.
Also! Mark your calendars! THE SUMMER I HOWLED will premiere in October, 2020, directed by Jamie Wilcox at the Egyptian YouTheatre! We'll also have a week long workshop if the play in the summer of 2020.
Stay tuned for more updates and exciting announcements as we move closer.
Three cheers for giving your first drafts permission to be chaotic, illogical, and ridiculous!!!